Smart Textiles and Clothing: An Opportunity or a Threat for Sustainability?

2019-09-13T09:20:17Z (GMT) by Gozde Goncu-Berk
Wearable technology products which include smart clothing and textiles have grown in popularity and are only expected to become more ubiquitous over the next several years with an annual growth of 23 percent reaching $100 billion in sales by 2023 and $150 billion by 2026. But this growing demand does not come without considerable cost. Combining electronics and textiles, which both are relatively short-lived mass consumer goods, would intensify product obsolescence and lead to even shorter life cycles and abandonment of products. Although there is extensive research on the sustainability of fashion, limited research exists on the sustainability of smart textiles and clothing, and it appears timely and significant for an exploratory study on this topic. This study explores sustainability of smart textiles and clothing by a critical and in-depth review of existing literature and recent design efforts in the industry and in alternative realms such as maker spaces. The study introduces design approaches for more sustainable products and user experiences by employing Norman’s levels of emotional design [1], and Lamb and Kallal’s functional, expressive, and aesthetic (FEA) apparel design models [2] as grounding frameworks to discuss the sustainability of smart textiles and clothing from all angles. References [1] Norman, Donald A. 2004. Emotional design: Why we love (or hate) everyday things. Basic Civitas Books. [2] Lamb, Jane M., and M. Jo Kallal. 1992. A conceptual framework for apparel design. Clothing and Textiles Research Journal 10, 2, (1992), 42-47.